Shoulders back, eyes up, focus on my breath

 

 

I wrote this in my journal several days ago.  It is just this morning that I feel the call, the push to share it here.  My writing in this blog, or diary format as I more often think of it, tends to be like that.  I have the beginnings of dozens of entries started.  All are waiting for the right time for me to develop and share.  This one needs to be spoken today.

A few days ago I went to St Elizabeth’s, the hospital I took Russell to on March 13, 2015 because he was in pain.  Tuesday was the first time I had been back there since March.  I went there to pick up Russell’s medical records.  Not for my own healing, but to help family members who seek understanding as they make their own way through the grieving and healing paths we find ourselves walking.  I felt ready to take this step forward on my own path.

I had a sense as I prepared myself to enter the building that I was reclaiming an ability to enter an emotionally charged space as a now neutral one.  As I walked inside I very intentionally pulled my shoulders up and back, kept my eyes forward, and focused on my breath.  I repeated to myself in a mantra like format “I can do this.  I am strong, capable and grounded.  I am healing and this is just one step forward.”  Over and over I repeated this as I looked for the records room.

Memories of that first day flashed through my brain as I passed the ER where I first stepped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land.  Somehow I kept the focus on my breath as I allowed memories to flit in and then allowed them to flit right back out.  As questions of “Huh?  Is this real?  Why? Etc…”  popped into my head I listened and then reminded myself that there are things in my life I will never understand.  And I smiled as I thought of Russell, his deep love for the mysteries of life and death, and I settled my mind back into allowing the mystery of life and my own journey to heal me a little bit more.  My heart sang a little with that deep feeling I get of Russell still being present to me in a very real, profound way.

My voice was clear and my breathing was steady as I spoke my request for Russell’s medical records to the records clerk.  When asked, I handed over the death certificate and talked of the fees, assuring her it didn’t matter what the cost was.  I continued to focus on my breath and felt strong.  I remember thinking “I’ve got this” and smiling at the thought.  I was steady until the pages started to print.

When the first page shot out of the copier I felt and heard my sharp intake of breath.  It was a quick, and very sharp reminder that he is no longer here.  This is the record of the final days of his life.  I wouldn’t be here in this space, in this time if he was still here.  Tears welled up as the missing and longing entered into me.

As I stood there waiting for the pages to print, tears slowly trickling down my face, I turned my full attention to my breath – breathe in sorrow of missing him; breathe out healing, hope and love of feeling his ongoing presence.  I listened to the pages, over 100 of them, that were a glimpse into the day of his hospital entry, the step down a rabbit hole into a week that still remains a mystery to me.  Eyes leak, focus on my breath.

Then, as the clerk put the records into an envelope and took my payment, the song “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith came on.  I almost gasped out loud and nearly fell to my knees.  This was one of the main songs that I played and sang to Russell over and over and over again whenever I was alone with him during his final days.  Flashes of sitting by his side, quietly singing while holding his hand, pouring thoughts of love and healing energy into him, fell over and into me like waves. I almost ran from the room.

And then, while the song played on the radio I clearly heard his voice speak to me “I am here. I hear you. I am here. I have stayed with you even though you can’t see me. I am here.”  My heart and mind settled enough to stay where I was. My breathing steadied and I allowed the tears to quietly flow as I smiled with the feeling of a gentle, sunshiny breeze blow over me.

I gasp out the words “Thank you” to the clerk as she hands me his records.  I somehow walk out the door, writing in my head as I go.  I can almost see this blog, diary, life entry being written as I walk.  Breathe, eyes forward, shoulders, focus on his presence as I also give voice to his absence.

Trust, love, believe that I, that we, are healing.  Walking out of the hospital, my heart is full with all that goes into saying YES to the awareness of both Russell’s absence and his presence.  Stay with me – Yes, I will. I do. I am.

 

 

Honoring a loved one – Wisdom from my journey

grievingsinkintoit

Several times this past week during my mentorship training in Equine Experiential Learning I have sat down to write.  Barbara Alexander’s Magical Oaks, the winter home for her Sacred You Academy and her wise horses, is truly magical.  My journal is filled with page after page of inspired ideas that came to me during my time there. I even have quite a few musings started as blogs but none of them flowed from me with the ease that I know comes when what I am writing comes from the center of my heart space.  This one that I am starting already is singing throughout me as I write.  Almost like my inner self has already written the words before I’ve had the chance to get to my computer to write.

The beginning of this musing came clearly to me last night as I tried to wrap my brain around the news from home that one of my boarders/friends’ pony, Paco, had died quickly and unexpectedly yesterday morning.  The reason why is unknown. His family, especially his young owner, Margo, are stunned.   They along with the whole Avalon community, especially the 100s of students who learned with him as their lesson pony, are reeling with the shock of it.

As I tried to find words to speak to the people back home and then share with my community gathered here in South Carolina, I experienced memories of the shock during Russell’s stay in the hospital followed by his unexpected death thread through my current shock over Paco’s death. The fact that today is the 10 month anniversary of Russell’s death probably had something to do with it.  And also the fact that I continue to walk the space  in-between a feeling of absence and presence.   It took me hours to find an ability to speak with coherence about what was happening.  Shock, with deep bone sadness rang throughout my entire being.

It was through this shock and sadness that my inner voice began to speak to me.  First in words of strength and ease for myself.  Then, in wisdom about what I can best do to help me, my friends, and the Avalon community begin to honor Paco’s  death and life.  I was reminded of the first few months of walking my way through the days of saying goodbye to Russell.  I thought again of what most helped me during that time and the things that just didn’t seem to resonate with me.  I thought of my own process and the one of those trying to support me as I navigated the newness of grieving.  I thought of what has been the most helpful things for me as I am healing.

I feel called to share those bits of wisdom here.  Take what works for you and let go of what doesn’t.  Each journey is different.  This is simply the things that my heart resonates with as one way to move towards healing.

*In the initial shock, the ability to form coherent words can almost become inaccessible.  Speak what you can and allow yourself the right to sit in silence as long as you want to.  If speaking about your loved one helps, then speak.  If remembering means sitting in silence, than no words are needed.

*Honor and recognize the loss.  Life can stop for awhile. It is okay to say to others and give ourselves permission to stop to remember, regroup and renew.  We don’t have to keep going as if nothing has happened.  This can give us time to feel the wide range of emotions that crash like waves over us during these times.

*In supporting those who have recently lost a loved one, it is good to be aware that sometimes words don’t flow easily for them or for you.  It is okay!  Your presence – physically and emotionally – is what can help the most. If you have no words you can say that or you can just be there, ready to hug or scream with or talk or laugh or whatever is ready to flow in each moment.  I have had a large number of times that I couldn’t speak but just being in the room while others carried on a conversation felt healing and grounding to me.  Allowing yourself and them to simply be in the moment, honoring all of the feelings that come out in these times, is a powerful gift.

*Understanding why and what is not always possible.  In truth, I am beginning to believe that even when the medical reason is clear there are still soul deep cries of “WHY?!”  We can feel compelled at these times to want to give answers, just in the hope that it might relieve some of the pain.  However, learning to live with the mystery and allowing that we cannot know the reasons for everything that happens in our lives can also be a valuable idea to settle into.  Great peace can come for many in letting go of the driving need to understand why.

*The things people say during this time are as varied as can be.  Some of the best things people have said to me during my healing time have been:  “I’m sorry.”  “I have no words and I am here for you.”   “I hear you.”  “Take all the time you need.”   “I don’t understand what you are going through but I am willing to listen or just be with you.”  “Cry, scream, laugh, do whatever you need to do for you.”  “How can I best support you right now?”  “Would you like a hug?” (Not always welcome by everyone.)

*In the initial moments and days when shock can be a predominant experience, I do caution folks about saying the following things. At least for me they have felt as if I should shut down my tears or they have left me feeling like a deer in the headlights.    “Somethings in life are just out of control.” (Yes, this is true. But in the shock of sudden loss, when life already feels out of control, to place more emphasis upon this can be overwhelming.)   “I know you are sad but this will make you stronger.”  (In the moment, I never really cared if it would make me stronger.)   “I know what you are feeling.” (Even if one has experienced the loss of a loved one, each relationship is different. And none of us can ever really know all that is going on inside of a person as they try to integrate the sudden death and absence of one they were close to.  A great alternative can be to ask “Would you like to talk about what you are feeling?” and then Listen without censoring!)  “We can learn from everything that happens to us.” (Yes, I believe this to be true. Doesn’t always help right after a death, as in that moment learning something new isn’t a very high priority. Just getting through and trying to rebalance is.”

*Tears are our right and can be a  part of the power for healing.

*Memories and sharing stories are a great way to remember and find our way to being able to speak again.  The desire to share may pop up at odd times, for a very long time to come.  Being open to sharing these and hearing them from others is another powerful gift.

*Take your time.  Encourage those you are supporting to take their time.

*Keep reaching out. Texting, sending emails, sharing stories and pictures, calling someone, messaging, all of these are great ways to show you care and are just checking in.  This is great to keep up for weeks, even months, after a death.  Months out it’s great to know folks still care and recognize that  someone is still grieving and healing.

*Support people are also encouraged to find their own support.  It can be draining to support those who are grieving.  Finding a friend or other support person for us is essential to keep us charged and able to function.  The grieving maybe different for those on the fringes, but it is still grieving to be honored.

*The only way through it is through it.  Grieving and healing the death of a loved one is a powerful journey.   Yes, it can be ignored for long periods of time.  But eventually, everyone has to go through it. It doesn’t just miraculously disappear.  Giving one’s self permission to walk through it right from the beginning in the way and in the time that is needed for you, is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.

*I firmly believe that if we are allowed, by others and especially ourselves, to feel things as deeply and as honestly as we need to in the beginning time of a loss we can build a firmer foundation for healing right from the get go.  Not that it is necessarily easier. More that the threads back to a whole, balanced self can be stronger for allowing ourselves to be authentic about the depth of our pain each step of the way.

*Be easy on ourselves!  Many of us, especially those supporting the direct family of the one who has died, can often be too hard on ourselves.  When we have weepy moments or days we will often tell ourselves to stop crying and even say to ourselves we should be over it by now or  we aren’t the ones who lost someone.  But all who were connected to the one who died experience some kind of loss; some kind of awareness of a new absence.  It takes everyone time to adjust to the absence and begin to find new ways of feeling the continued presence of our loved one.  Be easy on yourself!

 

In this writing I share only my views and the wisdom messages that I’ve received about grieving and healing.  And even this isn’t comprehensive.  In this time, in this moment, it is what rises up inside of me ready to be spoken aloud.  I invite everyone to listen to your own journeys finding wisdom and healing as it best for you.  This time, this moment, is really all any of us has.  Let’s all honor it as best as we can!

The Mundane

penny

It’s not the big things really that take my breath away, leaving me wobbly and wanting to run away.  Probably because I prepare myself for those things ahead of time.  I know well in advance that bigger events will leave me tired, feeling super vulnerable, and wanting to hide away under my covers for days upon days afterwards.

It’s the mundane, every day things that get me.  The little, seemingly innocuous things that do take my breath away and feeling as if I was stuck in revolving door for hours.   The missing of Russell can sneak up on me in these mundane things and I can be left feeling as if I will never be okay, ever again.

Last night I was washing dishes as our dishwasher is still broken.  I simply keep forgetting to contact our repair service.  Forgetting things, even very easy things, seems to be a constant occurrence these days.  Anyway, as I was washing I was struck by the realization that washing dishes has become a meditative time for me.  I love seeing the emptied out sink with clean dishes drip drying in the racks.  I love being able to look out of my kitchen window onto our property.

And then it was is Russell was standing there with me, saying “Yes, this is what I have always loved about washing dishes too.”  I wanted to be able to turn to him and say I get it.  I did say it in my mind to him but it just isn’t the same.  In that time and that moment last night, I smiled remembering him and his need to have the sink cleared all of the time.  It’s not something I cared that much about during all the years we were together.  I used to be very content letting things pile up for long periods of time. Not so much anymore.

While that mundane happening last night made me smile and feel closer to him, there are so many others that leave me feeling sad and achy in missing him.  The number of times I’ve gone to pick up the phone just to tell him something I knew he’d love to hear about is in the 1000s by now.  Every single day I have things that I am bursting in pride over about our kids and I wish I could talk to him about each one.

Laughing at the fact that our Christmas tree is still up, being watered, and probably won’t come down for weeks would definitely humor him.  I think our record one year was having the tree up until the first weekend in March. We might make that again this year.  We love the twinkling lights too much to take it down.

Walking downstairs to do the laundry can almost always choke me up.  Russell had created a little cave space for himself down there that he holed up in nightly.  I’ve just moved his chair so we don’t immediately see it when we go downstairs and that helps.  But we all avoid the basement.

As much as I love my bedroom there is a sharp moment each night that I almost run from the room.  It just seems so weird that it is my room, my bed, and all just my stuff in a space we shared for almost 2 decades.

And the pennies that I find every day, all over the place.  These make me smile a great deal and I put each one I find into my pocket for the day.  This tiny little piece of money that most folks simply throw away and don’t notice lying on the ground helps remind me time after time, moment after moment that Russell is still with me even if he is no longer with me.

Yep, it’s the mundane, simple things that have the power to make or break me in every time and in every moment.  I’m profoundly thankful that most days they are the bread crumbs leading me back to a whole, healed self rather than just the straws building up to break me completely apart.

Everything is New – The First Year, Part 2

hardtobeself

Example after example keeps popping into my head about the similarities between the first year as a parent and the first year of grieving the loss of a loved one.  Everyday something else pops up that speaks to the incredible newness of walking this journey.   I feel stronger and gain comfort in remembering that I can survive the remaking of myself.

*Sleep when the baby sleeps and sleep any chance you can. Napping has always been one of my favorite things to do.  This was one of my favorite pieces of wisdom shared with me as I became a parent.  Any chance I got I would sleep when Kateri slept.  There were lots of sweet, sweet naptimes with her and later my sons.  Napping now any chance I get provides me an extra boost of energy to get through some long, challenging days.  Even a quick 15 minute shutting of my eyes in my office at the farm can do wonders in reboosting me.

*Everything is marked in weeks and months.  For at least the first year, time is marked by the 1 month anniversaries of events.   In both situations, making it to the 1 year marker is a huge accomplishment.  After that point, marking things becomes closer to marking in years rather than months.  At least as a parent that was true and I imagine it will get easier to function in that way after this first year of grieving as well.  Not that the dates are forgotten each month but rather they don’t hold the same power as in the first year of the journey.

*A new language must be learned.    Words that had rarely been part of our vocabulary all of a sudden become something to be used and understood on a deeper, vastly different level.

*Weight goes on super easily and comes off not so easily.  With this one clothes never quite fit the same way again.  Our physical bodies shift and change in radical ways.   Expecting them to go back to the way they used to be is really a futile endeavor.  As with everything else about ourselves, our bodies are different and learning to live with these differences can take a lot of work.

*The smallest of accomplishments can be the greatest joy.   Our child’s first smile, first hiccup, lifting her chest during belly time, first step, first word all are celebrated with huge enthusiasm in the first year of their lives.   Showering in the morning, sleeping through the night, smiling more than crying in a day, looking at pictures without completely breaking down, all of these are huge accomplishments that should be celebrated when healing the loss of a loved one.

*Thoughts of your baby and thoughts of grieving your loss go with you everywhere.  Even when trying to have a night out with friends, we can find our minds constantly going back to our baby or our loss.  It never can just be set completely aside.  Allowing ourselves to just play, breathe deeply and experience more of our lives is a great gift we can give to ourselves.

*Our friends and the conversations we have can radically change.  We meet new people in the first years of these journeys.  People who we used to spend lots of time with before don’t always cross over into this new journey with us.  Things we used to talk about with ease can no longer seem important enough to hold our attention.

*There never seems to be enough sleep to feel rested.  Even with lots of napping the bone deep weariness is an almost constant in the first year.  I think it’s partly because there is so much interior work being done as who we are shifts, changes and settles into new understandings.

*Tears come easily.  Enough said.

*Getting out of the house is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes it can take hours to just get out to the grocery store.    The extra weight we now carry around, be it baby or our grieving, makes all tasks longer and harder to do.  Each month into the first year gets a little easier as we become stronger and more used to the extra weight of things.

*Groups and large events are exhausting.  The pull of energy from lots of people and activity can often seem like way too much to handle.  It can take hours, and even days, to recover from one event.

*Trusting one’s instincts is both a big challenge and one of the most important things to do.    People want to share their wisdom in how they survived the first year as a parent or the first year in grieving.  Helping others survive this time can be a great way for others to strengthen their own knowing.  While listening to others and taking in their wisdom can be a great way to make our own journeys easier, I believe it is also imperative to learn to trust that we know what is best for us and our own, very personal path.

*Will I ever get through this?  Many a day I have asked myself this question in the past several months.  And as I write dozens of instances of asking this same question the first year as a parent pop into my mind. The depth of feeling in this question often comes out with guttural cries.    I have had lots of times I’ve wondered how I could possibly be strong enough to make it through.  And then I come back to the deepest knowledge inside myself  that quietly and forcefully says “Yes, you can! The only way through it is through it so just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You will make it through.”

*Our journey is ours and ours alone.  No matter who else maybe companioning us on the journey we are walking, it is still our own personal journey.  We must walk it in the way and in the time that works for us.  Not everyone will understand why we do what we do and that is okay.   Staying true to ourselves and what we most need is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

 

 

Keeping up the momentum

rollercoaster

One of the things during this healing time that I have found to be the most shifting, confusing, unclear, and even seemingly out of my complete control at times is my energy level.   Figuring out the level of energy I have available to tap into each day can often be my biggest puzzle to solve.  It is definitely like riding a roller coaster with twists, turns, loops, high inclines, sharp drops, and a sense that there is no way to know what is coming next.  Over the past 9 1/2 months I have had lots of days that I simply hold on, close my eyes, take a deep breath and pray that I don’t throw up.   Taking into consideration the fact that I really, really don’t like rollercoasters this energy ride can be quite fascinating even terrifying.

The grieving process can truly, at times, leave me feeling as if I will never feel ready to tackle my world again.  I have days, actually many days, that taking a shower and getting dressed seem like impossible tasks.  On these days, there seems to be no energy for anything.  Going to work on these days or trying to accomplish anything beyond making my coffee almost doesn’t happen.

Part of the challenge for me on these lower energy days is that I simply don’t want to do anything to raise my energy level.  I want to sink into my comfy recliner either reading a novel or watching season after season of my favorite sitcom – New Girl is my current favorite.  I want to dive deep into the peacefulness that can come in the darkness where it is quiet, warm under my multitude of blankets, and I can hide away from the world.   So I find that I struggle with myself on these low energy days if I feel that I must go to work or somehow interact with the world.  I don’t want to move my body or my mind and raise my energy.  I want to stay in my cocooned place for just a little while longer, or sometimes a lot longer.

Dark, grey, rainy days almost always leave me feeling  lower energy.  Even turning on lots of lights does little to lead me to want to step into higher energy.  For years, winter has been a challenge for me.  It’s not the cold that gets to me, it is the darkness.  Long time friends of mine know it is very common for me to go into semi-hibernation mode the end of November and barely come out until the end of March.  This year with the addition of grieving the death of Russell I find myself desiring an even deeper, longer hibernation.

On my higher energy days everything seems to flow with ease and I find myself floating on a high of accomplishment, movement, desire, clarity of mind, and hope that I will again, someday, be able to move through my life with ease.  On these days, I seek interaction with the world.  I usually end up cleaning something.  I listen to a lot of music.  I laugh. I talk.  I dream.   I write in my journal.  I read books that inspire and stretch my mind.  I cook.  I believe that anything is possible.

Sunny days definitely make it much easier to raise my energy vibration.  The fact that January consistently seems to be bright and sunny leads me to think it of as one of my favorite months of the year.  The crispness of the cold in the sunshine is actually extremely enjoyable for me to work in.  Just the peeking out of the sun in the mornings is enough for me to think “Yes, I can go get out from under my warm covers, bundle up, and head outside.”  There is a kind of singing energy that reverberates throughout me when the sun is shining down upon me.

I have been very grateful that every day of 2016 has been filled with bright, constant sunshine.  Each day of this year I have done a little bit more clearing, cleansing, re-organizing and planning for the upcoming months.  Not only am I doing these things, my desire to do these things is a strong thread every single day.  I have deep, consistent desires to de-clutter every space I walk into.  I want to make space, organize things, and create opportunities to play with people and my horses.

It is the momentum of the track of energy that I find myself upon each day that I find most fascinating.  Heavier, darker, lower energy days have a kind of momentum that feels faster in some ways than high energy days.  It’s like that roller coaster as it flies down from a high point to the bottom of the track.  To stop the course of the ride at those times seems more daunting than I want to tackle.  And actually I am learning to not fight those times so much but rather to ride down to the very bottom, knowing that eventually the ride will start to move back up again.

The higher energy days are filled with excitement, anticipation, and wonder even as they can seem to inch along like the roller coaster going up a steep incline.  There seems to be more time during these days to look around, take a breath, and prepare for myself for the next part of my journey.  These days can often be jam packed though they don’t feel like it at the time.  The higher energy makes them flow with ease.  It’s only in the looking back that I can stand in awe of all I accomplished in just one, high energy day.

As I learn to allow myself to ride the energy days with whatever gifts they can bring, I find myself able to feel grateful for it all.  Everything I want to do always, always ends up getting done eventually.  Trusting that it is just as okay to dive down deep into the quiet solitude of low energy days as it is to soar through days that are filled with higher energy is one of my greatest life lessons in this time, this moment and probably true for all of my life.

 

 

 

 

Everything is new

grievingsinkintoitToday I had the wonderful opportunity to hold a sweet, tiny 3 week old little boy.  He is the new baby of one of my student’s families.  Holding that little baby, the sweetness of a newborn’s smell and little movements , was the great joy of my day.  As I held him and listened to the new parents talk about sleepless nights, discovering new things everyday, and learning how to ask for help, I was struck again how very much alike the first year of being a parent has many similarities with the first year of grieving the loss of someone dear to you.

Oh the strongest thread of that first year might be very different – joy for first parents and sadness for first year grievers – but there are so many other threads woven into the first year that are quite similar.   I’ve been reflecting upon this quite for some time and today’s holding of that adorable baby boy was the final piece that needed to settle into place leading me to share my musings.  It’s fascinating to me what can be the final necessary piece that I need each time before the compulsion to write settles so heavily upon me that all else falls away.

The first year is one of constant newness.  Absolutely everything is new and unknown.  Every day, every holiday, every thing to learn, every interaction with people, all of it is new.  As a first time parent and in the first year of grieving, absolutely nothing you do is like it was before the moment of birth or the moment of death.  It is all new, strange and unknown.  Even simple things can have a newness to them that can make navigating these new, unknown paths quite challenging.

This newness leaves one feeling a myriad of emotions and experiencing life in radically new ways..

*Confusion as you try to sort out how to handle each new situation.  Even the things that you used to know how to do without having to think about can no longer make any sense.   It can be confusing as everyone around you has some wisdom to share and there are more books about each topic than anyone could ever read.  Discerning which voices to listen to and which ones to block out can be a confusing process.

*Confusion can be compounded by the fact that exhaustion is probably one of the most common, constant things you experience.  Sleepless nights, nodding off at odd times and in odd places, bone deep weariness, all of these are present in almost every moment of every day.  Physically, mentally, emotionally exhaustion seems to wrap around us like a fog that you just can’t see through.

*New definitions of ones self that sometimes takes much longer than that first year to settle into believing is true about yourself.  I remember the first time I named myself as Kateri’s mother.  It felt so stunning to my ears.  And I believe it wasn’t until she was several years old, and Soren had joined us, that I truly felt like the definition of myself as mother was strongly entrenched.  This same thing is ringing true for me as I name myself as widow.  I have spoken this word out loud very few times as it feels like such a shock to my entire system when I speak it.  It’s as if someone has dumped a giant bucket of ice water over my head and I can’t process what has just happened.  The layers upon layers that are within each of in the ways we name ourselves is only now becoming clear to me as I try to honor and sort through the new layers of who I now am.

*Sadness at the ways in which we are no longer who we have known ourselves to be. And sadness at the radical ways in which our lives have changed.  Even as a new parent, with all its joy, there were many things in that first year that I felt sad about.  I couldn’t sleep whenever I wanted to.  Sleeping in was definitely a thing of the past.  Being spontaneous and going away for the weekend was no longer an easy task.  There was sadness at no longer feeling like my body was just my own.   As I walk through this first year of grieving the death there are many more sadnesses and senses of loss than I’ve ever experienced as a parent.  A constant thread that runs closely alongside the one of missing Russell is the one of missing knowing who I am and knowing what my life path is.  It is all turned upside down and inside out and I do feel sadness at this.

*Wonder at the ways in which your life has been turned upside down.  The flipside of the sadness is the wonder at looking at a life upside down.  It is a wondrous thing to know that I can rebuild myself into a new, deeper understanding of who I am. And there is great wonder in looking at the world with a new lens.  This year is radically like the first year of parenting in this sense.  When I can simply sit back and observe what is happening within myself I do find great wonder in this time and in this moment.  I am experiencing the world in such a stunning, new way that it is very easy to feel wonder in it.

* Gratitude for the gifts that you can see present in your life.  The only other time in my life, besides the one I find myself in right now, that I’ve felt such upswellings of love and gratitude for the gifts of the time were in the first year of parenting each of my children.  There are so very many gifts of love, others being present to me, and feeling connected to my children (then and now) that I feel gratitude every single day, even the hard ones. Maybe more so on the hard ones.

*Change is one of the most operative words.  Everything changes when you become a parent and everything changes when you lose someone.  Even the simplest of things are no longer the same.  How you find the time and energy to prepare a meal changes.  How you spend time with other people changes.  The things you are interested in doing and talking about changes.  What you want to do in your free time changes.  The things you worry about changes.  The things you don’t worry about anymore changes.  All of it, everything about your life, changes in some way, shape, or form.

*Being blindsided happens easily.   Just when you think you have something figured and you are on a certain path something new will fly in, hit you upside the head and it all changes again.  And honestly it is usually the littlest things that can blindside us – a picture of your loved one when least expected, an infant sleeping longer than expected or shorter than expected, a song on the radio, a certain smell – so many little, unexpected things.

*The energy we bring to each day is radically different than it was before.  Some days we can be high energy with lots of ability to tackle all of the newness in our lives.  Other days, we can be so low energy that we just don’t know how we are going to pull ourselves through until the end of the day.

*We can often feel as if no one else could possibly understand what we are going through.  As public as much of our journey can be, everything feels very private and even reclusive at times.  Hiding away from the world can become an easy thing to do.

 

Until we get through the first year of parenting or the first year of grieving there is no way that we can have any idea how we might handle each new thing that comes our way.  The first year provides a new foundation for how we will approach our world from this time, this moment forward.  I am confident that the second, and third, and every year after in this healing/grieving path I am on will bring as many challenges as each consecutive year of parenting has brought me since I first became a mother.  I do very much hope that my survival through this first year will at least give me a little more confidence that I can handle all the new things that will come my way as I walk my life without Russell physically by my side.  Each new thing that I make it through basically still intact is another solid brick I put down in my new foundation and new understanding of who I am now.

I am choosing to walk this healing path  slowly and with great intention, just as I walked the path of new time parent.  I choose to listen primarily to my inner self and learn to trust my instincts about what is right and true and needed for myself.  I choose to embrace all of the emotions of this time.  I choose to give voice to my experience as authentically as I can.  I choose to live this journey as deeply, as honestly, and as truly as I can.  And I choose to believe that each new step along this path is making me stronger.  By going through it, I know that I WILL get through it.